Can You Play Soccer While Pregnant? (Important Read)

My mother has been playing soccer for over 40 years now, and in that time she had five children throughout four pregnancies (one set of twins).

She’s played soccer before, during, and after pregnancy, but not without certain precautions.

She’s not alone either. While pregnancy used to mark the end of a soccer career for women, motherhood is now becoming a more common part of a female soccer player’s trajectory.

Ultimately, a lot of female soccer players want to know if they can play soccer while pregnant.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at:

  • Soccer training while pregnant
  • Risks and safety considerations
  • Playing after pregnancy

Pregnancy is a powerful experience that will impact your training, but it is more than possible to play soccer as a mother!

Pregnant Women Holding A Soccer Ball

Playing Soccer While Pregnant

First, the million-dollar question: can you play soccer while pregnant? It’s not a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Let me explain.

Generally speaking, exercise is good for mother and baby. Most often, women are recommended to keep up regular activity as much as possible.

In fact, pregnancy can be a great time to get active — even if you haven’t exercised in a while.

Mayo Clinic

During pregnancy, moderate exercise can help reduce pain, promote better sleep, prevent excess weight gain, and preserve muscle. Regular exercise throughout pregnancy has been linked to shorter labor, reduced likelihood of a C-section, and less risk of gestational diabetes.

However, there are exceptions and soccer is one of them. Soccer is listed as an activity to “approach with care.” The Sports Medicine Australia Guidelines by Dr. Marg Torode lists soccer as an “unlimited contact and collision sport” and recommends participation only during the first trimester.

Can Playing Soccer Cause a Miscarriage?

One of the main concerns with playing a high-impact, contact sport during pregnancy is the risk of miscarriage. Can soccer cause miscarriage?

Exercise itself has not been shown to cause miscarriage. However, soccer includes the risk of being hit in the abdomen.

  • 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and the cause is not always easy to determine.

After the first trimester, when the uterus starts to move above the pelvis, being hit in the stomach becomes a larger risk. A bad enough blow to the abdomen could cause placental abruption that leads to severe damage.

Essentially, it’s unlikely that a fall or hit from soccer will result in a miscarriage. Still, playing soccer after the first trimester puts both mother and baby at risk.

Risks of Playing Soccer While Pregnant

Playing soccer while pregnant comes with some risks to be aware of including:

  • Phsycial trauma from falls, collissions, or forcible contact.
  • Pregnancy symptoms may negatively impact your ply (i.e. shortness of breath).
  • Increased risk of falling, which can lead to other inuries.
  • Ligaments loosen, increasing the risk of ligament injury.
  • Can increase internal body temperature too high.

Examples of Women Who Played Soccer While Pregnant

To be safe, you should not play full-contact soccer while pregnant. So does this mean you have to hang up the cleats and halt your training? Not exactly.

Some incredible female soccer players recently led by example. Both Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux incorporated soccer-specific training throughout their pregnancies and returned to professional soccer after pregnancy.

Leroux trained with her club, Orlando Pride, throughout pregnancy. As her pregnancy progressed, she did only non-contact training. She returned to playing just five weeks after giving birth.

“I think it’s really important to see that life doesn’t have to stop and you can have a family and have a career and be able to do them at the same time.”

Sydeny Leroux

Morgan also trained late into her pregnancy. Much like Leroux, she moved to non-contact and individual training later in her pregnancy. She posted video clips of her passing and shooting while 7 months pregnant!

Only three months after giving birth, Morgan earned a spot on the USWNT Tokyo 2020 squad.

While Leroux and Morgan were not the first professional athletes to train late into pregnancy and return soon after, they are two great modern examples of women who blended motherhood with their professional soccer careers.

Tips for Safely Playing Soccer While Pregnant

Pregnancy does not have to take you away from the game of soccer. It’s certainly possible to play soccer (in some way) while pregnant, but you should be cautious.

Here are some tips for safely blending soccer and pregnancy:

pexels mart production 7089401
pexels mart production 7089401

Consult Your Doctor

Every pregnancy is unique. Work closely with your doctor to determine what is safe for your pregnancy.

Not all of us are professional athletes who need to return within a few months after giving birth. It’s about creating a plan that is best for you and your baby, and your doctor can help with that.

Stay Cool

It’s common to play soccer outside in warmer months, but this can be an added risk for pregnancy. You must make sure not to overheat. Avoid playing in too hot of weather, hydrate, and bring cooling towels or ice.

Take Breaks as Needed

Fatigue and shortness of breath are common symptoms of pregnancy. You should not be miserable while playing or training. Take breaks as needed and catch your breath.

Listen to Your Body

The body goes through many changes during pregnancy, be sure to listen. If you feel dizzy, faint, your heart racing, etc, then step aside.

Adjust Your Training

As your pregnancy continues, you will need to adjust how you train for soccer and that’s okay. You may go from playing to non-contact playing to individual drills, etc.

Proper Equipment

Pregnancy is not the time to skip out on shinguards, or to wear tennis shoes instead of cleats. Make sure you play or train with the proper gear, including the right shoe for the surface. For example, if you’re looking for a quality, affordable turf shoe, we recommend the Nike Tiempo 9 Academy.

Female Soccer Player - Sat with a soccer ball

Playing Soccer After Pregnancy

During pregnancy, you must prioritize the health of you and your baby. For some women, this may still include quickly jumping back into soccer training while for others it may not.

Regardless, most women can return to soccer after pregnancy. Of course, training for soccer (safely) throughout pregnancy can help you return quicker after, but every recovery is different.

Much like training during pregnancy, returning to sport after pregnancy is all about listening to your body. Some professional athletes like Leroux and Morgan return fully within a few months, while it may take over a year for other women.

Take your time after pregnancy to fully heal, gain back strength, improve fitness, and work your way back to soccer. This reduces the chances of injury and helps you get back to the sport you love safely!

If you’re looking for a pair of pro women’s soccer cleats. Here’s a list that the USNWT wears! Read the full article here to find the perfect cleat for you.

USWNT Soccer Cleats

Nike Men’s Mercurial Superfly V SG-PRO (831956) Racer Pink Size 12.5
Nike Vapor 13 Elite Fg Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat Mens Aq4176-801 Size 11
New Balance Tekela v3+ Pro FG, Football Boot, Alpha Pink-Horizon, Alpha Pink Horizon, 9.5 AU
Nike Unisex Phantom GT Elite FG Soccer Shoe, Photo Blue MTLC Silver Rage Green Black, 11.5 US Men
Nike Tiempo Legend 7 Elite FG Soccer Cleats (M7/W8.5, White/Hyper Crimson/Black)
PUMA Mens One 20.1 Firm GroundArtificial Grass Soccer Cleats Cleated,Firm Ground,Turf - Green,Yellow - Size 10.5 M
Cleat
Nike Men’s Mercurial Superfly V SG-PRO (831956) Racer Pink Size 12.5
Nike Vapor 13 Elite Fg Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat Mens Aq4176-801 Size 11
New Balance Tekela v3+ Pro FG, Football Boot, Alpha Pink-Horizon, Alpha Pink Horizon, 9.5 AU
Nike Unisex Phantom GT Elite FG Soccer Shoe, Photo Blue MTLC Silver Rage Green Black, 11.5 US Men
Nike Tiempo Legend 7 Elite FG Soccer Cleats (M7/W8.5, White/Hyper Crimson/Black)
PUMA Mens One 20.1 Firm GroundArtificial Grass Soccer Cleats Cleated,Firm Ground,Turf - Green,Yellow - Size 10.5 M
Stars
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-
-
-
-
Nike Men’s Mercurial Superfly V SG-PRO (831956) Racer Pink Size 12.5
Cleat
Nike Men’s Mercurial Superfly V SG-PRO (831956) Racer Pink Size 12.5
Stars
-
Buy
Nike Vapor 13 Elite Fg Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat Mens Aq4176-801 Size 11
Cleat
Nike Vapor 13 Elite Fg Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat Mens Aq4176-801 Size 11
Stars
-
Buy
New Balance Tekela v3+ Pro FG, Football Boot, Alpha Pink-Horizon, Alpha Pink Horizon, 9.5 AU
Cleat
New Balance Tekela v3+ Pro FG, Football Boot, Alpha Pink-Horizon, Alpha Pink Horizon, 9.5 AU
Stars
-
Buy
Nike Unisex Phantom GT Elite FG Soccer Shoe, Photo Blue MTLC Silver Rage Green Black, 11.5 US Men
Cleat
Nike Unisex Phantom GT Elite FG Soccer Shoe, Photo Blue MTLC Silver Rage Green Black, 11.5 US Men
Stars
-
Buy
Nike Tiempo Legend 7 Elite FG Soccer Cleats (M7/W8.5, White/Hyper Crimson/Black)
Cleat
Nike Tiempo Legend 7 Elite FG Soccer Cleats (M7/W8.5, White/Hyper Crimson/Black)
Stars
-
Buy
PUMA Mens One 20.1 Firm GroundArtificial Grass Soccer Cleats Cleated,Firm Ground,Turf - Green,Yellow - Size 10.5 M
Cleat
PUMA Mens One 20.1 Firm GroundArtificial Grass Soccer Cleats Cleated,Firm Ground,Turf - Green,Yellow - Size 10.5 M
Stars
-
Buy

Essential Equipment You Need

20 Pieces of Gear Soccer Players and Coaches Need For Soccer - With Pictures

Playing Soccer FAQ

Is soccer a contact sport?

While tackling with excessive force, charging, and striking opponents are illegal in soccer, players often overstep the boundaries. Although this generally results in appropriate sanctions being awarded, it doesn’t prevent significant contact from occurring.

What do soccer teams do at halftime?

At halftime, soccer teams exit the field. They return to their bench area. For youth teams, they may not have a locker room. However, many college and professional teams do head back to the locker room. 
The break is an opportunity for teams to collect themselves. They may talk about what is going well in the game, and what they need to resolve.

How do I join a soccer team?

Attend trials for schools, teams in your local area. If no trials are due, then contact the coach to see if you can join a practice. Search for local soccer teams and try a few to see if it suits your ability and it also needs to be a place that you would enjoy. Scholarships are also available depending on your age, ability, and location. 

Why does a soccer ball curve?

The angle and speed with which the soccer player’s boot strikes the ball determine how far the ball travels. The ball won’t curve or spin if the player hits it right in the middle with their foot following through in a completely straight line.

What are some injuries players get when playing soccer? 

The most common knee and ankle injuries are mild to severe sprains, strains, and tears. Other less common knee and ankle injuries include dislocations and fractures.

What are some ways to pass a soccer ball?

+ Inside foot: Using the area above and inside of the big toe.
+ Outside foot: This creates a spin on the ball to swerve the ball around players
+ The Laces: A powerful volley can be performed with a straight leg swing.
+ Spin: If the toes get underneath the ball with some force you create a backspin.
+ Back heel: Connect the heel with the ball to reverse play.
+ Header: Often used for clearing and shooting, but can be a creative passing move.
+ Body: Use any part of the body to deflect the ball into the path you desire.

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